by Theodore Dalrymple
The National Health Service is specially designed to cater to a nation of pauper children. Walking down the street recently, I came across the following poster by the NHS:
If you have … blood in your poo, pee or spit, don’t ignore it.
Of course, there has been progress, or at least change: when I was little, poo was known as big-jobs. The poster continues:
The way you make an appointment may have changed, but your GP practice wants to hear from you if you are worried.
This is artfully phrased. Note that there is no promise that your doctor (if in these days anyone can still be said to have one) will see you. You will see or hear from whomever you are allocated to see or hear from: a situation appropriate to a nation that has willingly pauperised itself by bowing down to the graven image of the NHS.
Of course, a pauper may be treated well or badly, kindly or cruelly, and in the NHS both kinds of treatment are to be encountered. I have personally nothing to complain of, though I know people who do. But a pauper is a pauper still: he has no control over, or say in, what he is given.
The words “your GP practice wants to hear from you” will no doubt raise a hollow laugh from many who have tried to telephone their GP practice. Many NHS receptionists seem to have studied in the Soviet school of customer service. They have not only hearts, but voices of stone, if you can wait long enough to get through to them. Like the civil rights demonstrators in America, they will not be moved.
Furthermore, they are expert diagnosticians, deciding whether you are worthy or not to be seen, often not.
“Wants to hear from you” indeed!
First published in The Critic.